History in the Making? Could the Presidential Election be Postponed?

As Hurricane Sandy batters the eastern United States, leaving behind what experts are already citing as “incalculable” damage and causing over 8 million people to lose power to their homes, politics should be the last thing on anyone’s mind.  But we are in the middle of a very important presidential election that was winding its way down to its stirring conclusion on Tuesday, November 6.  With this unprecedented situation unfolding before our eyes, a lot of people are starting to wonder how we can hope to hold a reputable election when so many voters are facing tragedy and hardship, right down to the very logistics of being able to vote at all.  So, while we first offer our prayers and thoughts to the myriad of victims of Hurricane Sandy, Common Sense Conspiracy wants to set the record straight on just what could happen from here.

The burning question on a lot of people’s minds right now is whether or not the election could be pushed to a later date.  In conspiracy circles, this also means questioning if the President could do this of his own accord.  If the President had such a power, this situation would be highly controversial.  The reasons being fairly obvious:  he could decide to postpone the election or not.  The “right” thing to do would seem to be to push it back, because making sure that the maximum number of Americans have the opportunity and means to have their voices heard should be paramount.  On the other hand, such a power would also be subject to the temptation of corruption.  Obama might look at the situation and make a decision based on whether or not his political objectives are better off or worse off with those voters making it to the polls.  Don’t listen to the conspiracy chatter on this one.  President Barack Obama does not have the power to delay the election, whether he wishes to do so or not.  So who would call the shots if this scenario comes into play?

It is Congress that has the power to negotiate when elections take place.  Congress sets the date, although it is not a very difficult task for them, as it has been pretty much set in stone that the presidential election falls on the first Tuesday of November every four years.  Now, Congress has the authority to change that date at any time, and that includes this close to Election Day.  While it may seem like a prudent course of action at first glance, there is a lot more that goes into it.  First of all is simple logistics.  The entire country has made plans to go ahead with the election on this date and everything is already set in motion.  To move it back may not seem like a big deal, but it would disrupt a lot of plans, especially people who have arranged to be available to help make the polls run like clockwork.  Furthermore, states combine their own races with the date to streamline costs and inconveniences.  So, either the states would have to postpone their own races as well, or run two separate elections, causing twice the toll on budgets.  Then there is the concept that there would be less turnout for state roles; the presidential election traditionally brings out more voters who will then vote on the state and local level while they are already there.  They might not make the effort for the lesser elections if the presidential bid was not there as well.

Not all of the nation is directly affected by Sandy, however.  Would it not be possible to just push back voting in a few states that have born the brunt of Sandy’s wrath?  Federal law says that this is possible.  But state and federal law is a tricky subject that doesn’t always fit together like a glove.  Some states have already said that their own laws prohibit them from changing the date, regardless of federal guidelines.  Then, there is the problem that Congress is not in session and most members are caught in hotly contested campaigns for their own reelection.  They will not be likely to sideline their personal efforts to come back to session to intervene unless it is very clear that action must be taken.

It is rare in this day and age that we see a situation that is truly unprecedented.  The presidential election has never been postponed in the United States.  This could be a true first, people.  There are instances where local elections have been postponed due to extreme circumstances.  Two notable examples would be the New York mayor primary after the September 11 terrorist attacks.  Also, New Orleans was forced to delay its elections in the wake of another hurricane, Katrina, in 2005.

In the states damaged by Hurricane Sandy, there will be a simpler and more direct problem:  where to vote at.  It is entirely possible that voting locations will be damaged or in locations where it would not be a good idea for hundreds of voters to flock to come a week from Tuesday.  Simply moving the voting location in a time when communication networks are compromised would no doubt cause seas of controversy, not to mention the potential effect it could have on the election itself.  Throw in the fact that several of the states beat down by Sandy happen to heavily contested states that are where the whole country was likely to be looking on November 6 to find out who their next president is.

So, it’s going to be an interesting week leading up to Election Day.  But while all of this talk is interesting, and important in its own way, still, the real issue on the table right now is the safety and well-being of the victims of this terrible storm.  Common Sense Conspiracy urges our readers to get involved and help if possible.  Remember, monetary donations are just as necessary as physically being there and lending a hand.